20 civil society alliances from Africa, Asia, Europe, Eastern Mediterranean and Latin America will be awarded grants to accelerate the response to the coronavirus pandemic through the first Civil Society Solidarity Fund on Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs) and COVID-19, which was announced today by the NCD Alliance during a high-level online event.
Todd Harper, President of the NCD Alliance, said: “The coronavirus pandemic shows many intersections between COVID-19 and NCDs. People living with NCDs are more vulnerable to COVID-19, with a substantially higher risk of becoming severely ill or dying from the virus. The pandemic is also impacting the poorest communities around the world and the most vulnerable people in every country. The civil society solidarity fund was born out of the need to tackle NCDs as fundamental to health security and to prevent a reversal of gains made in NCD prevention and control around the world”.
The fund totalling $300,000 will competitively award grants of up to US$15,000 to national and regional NCD alliances to support them in addressing the critical needs of people living with NCDs during COVID-19 via advocacy and communication activities that will support stronger organisational stability and resilience. Activities will include advocacy and communication efforts for the continuity of essential NCD health services and inclusion of NCDs in national COVID-19 response and recovery plans and community-led awareness-raising campaigns on the linkages between NCDs and COVID-19.
Katie Dain, CEO of NCD Alliance, said: “This is a first-of-its-kind fund to support NCD civil society organisations (CSOs) respond to COVID-19. During pandemics, momentum in several health and sustainable development issues, notably HIV/AIDS, Ebola and climate change, have repeatedly reinforced the critical role of CSOs and community-led efforts in accelerating action from local to global levels. Civil society are proven campaigners, change agents, experts, implementers, and watchdogs.”
Given the vulnerabilities of COVID-19 to people living with NCDs, it is key to ensure a vibrant and strong NCD civil society that can elevate the voices of communities and people living with NCDs, advocate for health policy reform and hold governments and other stakeholders to account. The global NCD civil society movement has seen very significant growth over the last decade. COVID-19, however, is challenging its sustainability and has stalled advocacy efforts on the ground. If we are to avoid people left behind including NCD advocates, youth movements and community engagement, a strong civil society movement is essential. It is crucial to support NCD advocates now to ensure they can continue their very needed work.
The NCD Alliance Civil Society Solidarity Fund on NCDs and COVID-19 has been made possible thanks to generous financial contributions of NCD Alliance’s supporters: The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, Access Accelerated, Takeda, AstraZeneca and Upjohn (Pfizer). The Fund received 45 submissions from national and regional alliances across all regions, which were reviewed by a selection committee. The Fund recognises the essential work of NCD advocates, which now becomes even more critical than ever to ensure political and media attention to the needs of people living with NCDs as one of the most vulnerable groups to COVID-19.